Some garlicky notes for this Holy Week.
First, at BBC an ancient recipe made new.
1,000-year-old onion and garlic eye remedy kills MRSA
A 1,000-year-old treatment for eye infections could hold the key to killing antibiotic-resistant superbugs, experts have said.
Scientists recreated a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon remedy using onion, garlic and part of a cow’s stomach.
They were “astonished” to find it almost completely wiped out methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as MRSA.
Their findings will be presented at a national microbiology conference.
The remedy was found in Bald’s Leechbook – an old English manuscript containing instructions on various treatments held in the British Library.
Anglo-Saxon expert Dr Christina Lee, from the University of Nottingham, translated the recipe for an “eye salve”, which includes garlic, onion or leeks, wine and cow bile.
Experts from the university’s microbiology team recreated the remedy and then tested it on large cultures of MRSA.
Oh those medieval types were soooo stupid.
And now from the great blog Pass The Garum an even more ancient recipe made new.
Moretum – Cheese, Herb and Garlic Spread
Moretum is a cheese, garlic, and herb spread mentioned in a wonderful little poem, also called Moretum, allegedly by Virgil. The poem tells us about the farmer Symilus and his morning meal. Waking up early, he lights his lamp and visits his grain stores. After spending some time milling the grain, Symilus has just enough flour to bake a loaf of bread. However, the farmer soon notices that he has no meat, and worries that the bread might not be tasty enough on its own, so he sets about making some moretum to go with it. Seeing as our bread could use a little lift, I’m going to follow this Roman farmer’s example and make some of this cheese spread. The whole poem, which really is worth a read, can be found by clicking here. It’s too long to post in full, so I’ve summarised the important bits here:
Symilus gathers four heads of garlic (!), celery, parsley, rue, and coriander seeds.
He grinds the garlic in his mortar and pestle, and adds salt and cheese.
He then adds the celery, rue, parsley, and coriander seeds.
The smell is so strong that it makes his eyes water!
Finally, he adds some olive oil and vinegar, finishes off the mixture, and slaps some on his freshly baked bread.
So, what to make of this? Well for one there is far too much garlic; Symilus might have been able to work alone in his field without his breath offending anyone, but most of us don’t have that luxury. I’ve toned it down a bit and used just half a clove. Secondly, Virgil mentions a bitter herb called ‘rue’ which I don’t have access to at the minute, so that’s been left out.
You’ll have to go over there to see the recipe. I have to try this stuff. Maybe tomorrow.
I need some rue, and not from a bottle of grappa.